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December 20, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Adam Rittenberg

Buzzmaster
  (3:46 PM)

Hey folks, Adam will be chatting Thursday.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:00 PM)

Hey guys, I'm here. Let's get started.

Andy (Dayton)

Adam, stupid realignment question/ suggestion, Air Force and Navy. I know not AAU but you need a congressional appointment to get in that has to count for something. And Air Force gets the Denver TV market.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:02 PM)

And we're off! Don't see this happening, as Big Ten filled with public, research-based institutions except for Northwestern (private, founding member). Also don't think Air Force really gets you the Denver market like Colorado could.

Jon (Augusta, GA)

With a possible East-West division alignment (aka "option#2" at the btn.com survey), Purdue and MSU seem to be the most "movable" pieces. Based on your experience, which division do you think either/both of these would prefer to play in, especially without regard to the primary rival for each (IU, Mich)? Oh, and for the record, these divisions could be named "Eastern & Western", with the latter being a nod to the former name of the conference.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:04 PM)

Jon, I think Michigan State would be fine staying in the western division, as long as it could play Michigan every year in a crossover. It's more important to switch Wisconsin and keep the Badger rivalries with both Minnesota and Iowa every year.

Brandon (Cleveland)

Do you view the 2013 Buckeyes as a legit top 5 team? Do you think they have the talent to win the BCS National Championship?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:04 PM)

Yes, definitely a top 5 team in my opinion. My concern is depth on defense, especially if Bradley Roby goes to the NFL. Ohio State will be relying on a lot of younger players on D, particularly up front. The offense should be very, very good, though.

Kris Graewin (Wisconsin)

Does Thomas Hammock stay on as coach for Wisconsin?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:05 PM)

We'll find out, Kris. Thomas had an opportunity to go to the NFL's St. Louis Rams last year but ended up staying. I know he wants to become a coordinator. A lot depends on what direction Gary Andersen goes in with his offensive staff. Barry Alvarez certainly could have influence on who Andersen hires.

DAvid (Chicago)

Illinois added 5 JC players the other day. At one point I think I saw they had 7 guys that were going to sign. Do you think they sign any more JC players in the next couple of week?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:06 PM)

David, I guess it's possible, as Tim Beckman mentioned signing as many as 8 juco players. Illinois certainly is going the quick-fix route because of so many depth issues it has.

dustin (marshfield, wi)

With the hire of Gary Anderson how much of an impact in recruiting do you think he will have as more players view Wisconsin as a place to go?!?!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:07 PM)

Dustin, I think his background should help Wisconsin's efforts in different parts of the country. It's critical that Wisconsin remains strong in Florida -- why keeping Charlie Partridge would be so huge for the Badgers -- but also branch out to the West Coast a bit more. Andersen should be able to help in those areas, but Wisconsin also can't neglect the Midwest.

Justin (Oak Park)

So the USU OC won't be coming to Madison, as he's being announced as HC. Odds Canada comes back now over 50%?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:08 PM)

It's definitely improved, Justin, although a lot depends on Andersen and what he wants to do. Canada definitely sounds like a guy who wants to stay in Madison longer than a year.

Zak (Chicago)

How does the Penn State QB process go with the JUCO signing along with Steven Bench is still there?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:09 PM)

Well, both Ferguson and Bench will compete for the starting job in spring practice. The addition of Ferguson also could allow Penn State to redshirt top QB recruit Christian Hackenberg, who is the team's long-term future at the position.

Brandon (Cleveland)

What's your best guess on Bradley Roby's NFL decision?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:10 PM)

Think he stays, but it's all dependent on the draft evaluation.

Spencer (Madison, WI)

Should I enjoy this chat or study for finals?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:10 PM)

Finals can wait!

DAvid (Chicago)

I read the Powers article on TB...do you think he should have feared for his job? I know if I was turning out the kind of results he was at my job, I would certainly be feeling a little uneasy.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:11 PM)

Even if he was afraid, I'm not sure he would have admitted it. Sends off a bad message publicly during a big recruiting period. Beckman can't be feeling too secure going forward, but it's very, very rare for a coach to be fired after only one season. The odds were on his side there.

Erik (Lincoln, NE)

Do you want to help shovel the rest of my driveway? Thanks

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:11 PM)

Nah. Saving my back for tonight. Good times.

Craig (Braintree, MA)

You agree with Ra'Shede Hageman staying for another year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:12 PM)

I do. He's got an NFL body but still can develop into a most consistent force in the middle of the defensive line. Hageman isn't where Kawann Short and Johnthan Hankins are, but he could get there with another season. He's so impressive physically -- off the charts.

Ben (Columbus)

Adam, which position group on the Buckeyes needs to have the best offseason? Which individual player?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:13 PM)

Definitely the defensive line, Ben. It loses Big Ten DPOY John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Nathan Williams, Garrett Goebel ... the list goes on. There's a lot of youth up front -- a lot of talent, too. That group really needs to grow up and make progress for Ohio State to compete for a national title in 2013.

JL (Warrenton, VA)

Adam: In following the recruiting news, it seems to me that players have committed then de-committed at a far higher rate than usual. Is this just my perception or is it really happening that way? Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:14 PM)

JL, while we've seen this trend in recent years, I don't think this year is particularly unusual. We saw this a lot more in the Big Ten last year because of Penn State's situation and Urban Meyer's arrival at Ohio State.

Zak (Chicago)

With the talk of Bowl Games, say the B1G plays out of their mind and wins a few against the SEC, how much does this help going into next year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:15 PM)

Zak, I think it quiets down the negativity, which is a win for the Big Ten, even if it doesn't trigger a ton of praise. The Big Ten doesn't want to get beaten up for eight more months before the 2013 season. A decent bowl season should quiet things down a bit.

George (DC)

Adam, I'm an OSU alum and live in the DC area. I know Michigan, PSU, Wisconsin, and MSU alums in the area. We all seem to be disappointed in the addition of the latest two teams. Does Delany realize he's devaluing the brand. When OSU is playing Rutgers or MD, I have plenty of better options in this area than watching OSU throttling one of these teams on the B10 network.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:16 PM)

George, thanks for sharing your perspective. If many Big Ten fans in those markets feel the same way, these additions could be damaging. I'm a little surprised that you wouldn't take advantage of the chance to watch your Buckeyes play live in your backyard at Maryland. I think more Big Ten fans will get excited about those types of local games.

Spencer (Madison, WI)

Top 5 B1G Heisman candidates for next year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:18 PM)

Assuming Le'Veon Bell doesn't stay ... 1. Braxton Miller 2. Taylor Martinez 3. Venric Mark 4. Devin Gardner 5. Carlos Hyde. If Bell stays, he'd be either No. 3 or No. 4.

Brandon (Cleveland)

Who you got as breakout star on the Buckeyes defensive line for next year? Spence or Washington or Schutt....tons of young talent!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:19 PM)

All three came in with so much hype in recruiting. It looked like Spence played more as the season went along, but I really like Schutt's potential as a big interior lineman.

Colin (Lansing)

Regardless of how the B1G sets up the new divisions, do you agree that ALL regular-season finales should be against divisional opponents?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:20 PM)

Colin, this is a good point brought up by several fans. There do seem to be too many cross-division matchups on the final Saturday because of the rivalries. If you put Michigan and Ohio State in the same division, it would solve that one. I think it's something the Big Ten must consider going forward.

Dale (Minneapolis)

In terms of recruiting, is it important to look at a select player's recruiting rankings or what kind of offers that player is receiving?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:22 PM)

Really good question, Dale. I'd definitely look at the offers more than the rankings, which can be all over the place depending on which service you use. Nebraska, for example, just landed an offensive line recruit (David Knevel) who also had an offer from Alabama. That's very significant in my view.

Craig (Braintree, MA)

Marqueis Gray is leaving. Do you think the QB situation is going to be better or worse next year for the Gophers?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:23 PM)

A lot depends on how Philip Nelson progresses during the offseason and, more important, whether Minnesota can develop some weapons around him. The Gophers lack depth at wide receiver and lose tight end John Rabe. They need some threats at those positions. Minnesota will have more bodies at QB, but they'll be young guys with little experience. It could be another year before that offense really turns a corner.

Brandon (Cleveland)

What team or teams should B1G fans feel confident about with these upcoming bowl games?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:24 PM)

Northwestern, Michigan State and Michigan or Wisconsin have the most realistic chances to win, in my view. Wisconsin is a bit of a mystery because of all the transition, but I think the Badgers will play hard for Barry. Northwestern and Michigan State play fairly evenly matched opponents in Miss State and TCU, respectively.

Yves (Quebec City)

Adam, is it true you finished in second place for The ESPN B1G blogger of the year? Congratulations.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:24 PM)

No comment. And thank you.

Conner (Ann Arbor)

As a Michigan fan, did Wisconsin make a good hire? Good enough keep them towards the top in the Big Ten? I might be in the minority thinking the Big Ten needs them to remain good for the sake of the conference.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:26 PM)

I definitely agree that the Big Ten benefits from Wisconsin's consistent success, although the Badgers must show they can win at the highest level like they did in the 1990s. I like the Andersen hire because he built something successful at a place (Utah St) where I thought it couldn't be done. I also like his defensive background with Urban at Utah. It's a big jump for him to the Big Ten, but I think he'll be able to keep things going at UW.

Mike (Paris, OH)

Adam,There was recently an article on ESPN.com talking about the ACC vs. the Big Ten and which conference is in worse shape. in the article it talked about how both teams need to win some marquee games to help their repuation and how Wisconsin beating Stanford would be a big help.However, the BIg Ten is already 4-2 in their last 6 BCS games on the field (3-2 when you take away OSU) and it hasn't helped their reputation one bit. Why is that?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:28 PM)

Hey Mike, I actually wrote that article. ... Although the Big Ten's recent BCS record isn't as lousy as it was from 2006-2008, the New Year's Day results have been particularly damaging. Going winless on Jan. 1, 2011, was really bad, and last year's results (only one win in triple overtime) weren't much better. The Big Ten rolls the dice a bit with putting so many bowl games on the same day -- it has lost the last two years, and that's why the league has taken some heat.

Pavlov's Dog (Mother Russia)

Looking at Indiana and next year, they have a great shot at finally making an impact in the league. They have a solid offense returning and if the defense can step up and make big plays consistently every game they will pull off some upsets.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:29 PM)

Agree, Pavlov, and with eight home games, Indiana should be able to reach the postseason. But again, it comes down to that defense, which has been terrible for a very long time. Indiana needs to build much more depth there to be able to beat some of the better teams in the league. But the division is still down, and a bowl game should be the expectation for IU in 2013.

Preston (Omaha)

Any chance Chicago gets a chance to host the B1G championship in the future or perhaps MetLife Stadium?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:30 PM)

Chicago definitely will be in play when it puts together a better plan for hosting the title game and all the surrounding events. While I could see the Big Ten title game at MetLife one time, I don't see the game leaving the Midwest very often at all.

Mike (Paris, OH)

But Adam don't you think some in the media share in the responsibility of the Big Ten bashing? After all, you are a Big Ten blooger, wrote the article, and not one time mentioned the BCS success of the league over the last 3 seasons.Also, what other league would have a better New Year's Day record against the SEC teams the Big Ten has played? It seems like the Big Ten gets beat up by poor journalism as much as by the SEC.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:33 PM)

Mike, perhaps more than anyone in the national media, I've pointed out (repeatedly) how difficult the Big Ten's bowl lineup is for the teams. But you don't get credit for playing a tough lineup -- it's a big reason why I believe the Big Ten should mix in some easier games for the next lineup. Commissioner Jim Delany and I disagree on this, and obviously his opinion actually matters. But that story was more about which league needed a strong bowl seasons after this regular season, not based on past bowl performances. There's really few excuses you can make about the Big Ten's regular-season performance. That was the reason for the story.

Billy (Madison)

Can we talk about how this Wisconsin coaching regime change will affect recruiting? The Journal Sentinel and State Journal are reporting that Barry is trying to retain Partridge in part because of his recruiting, but all reports have Anderson bringing his DC and D-line coach with him, so what would Partridge coach? Are his recruiting skills that highly regarded? Also, everyone's talking about the Badgers maintaining their recruiting pipelines. Is this really that important? Couldn't Andersen just tap his recruiting contacts in Texas and with Polynesian players and establish a couple more pipelines?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:35 PM)

Billy, I don't think you can assume Andersen's recruiting ties will yield a ton of players for Wisconsin. The thing about Partridge is that he's already established at Wisconsin and has brought in so many talented guys from Florida. You don't lose that if you retain him. Now you bring up a really good point about where he'd fit in. He's getting $350K at Arkansas, so it'd be hard to see him staying at Wisconsin for anything other than a coordinator job.

Dan (Due North of Canada)

All the regulars on ESPN's B1G are wondering why for a guy who played in 1990 at a big program like OSU, why no height info for Bo Pelini on the Internet?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:36 PM)

OK, I was wondering where this came from. I'll try to find an old Ohio State media guide to verify Bo's height. I would say he's 6-1 or so.

Karl Malone (LTech Alumnus)

Adam,Do you feel the B1G is making a long-term mistake by investing in teams based upon, in part, the value of their television market? The experts I've spoken with work under the belief that cable bundles, something the B1G is capitalizing with the BTN, may be a thing of the past, potentially within the next decade. This could make the additions of teams like Maryland a meteoric mistake! What do you think?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:39 PM)

Karl! Always good to hear from the mailman. It will be very interesting to see how the Big Ten's cable negotiations go in these new markets and if, as you say, things will change with the bundles. The Big Ten says it's not all about TV but rather expanding the footprint into more populated areas with Big Ten alumns. But if the TV issue goes kaput, there will be some explaining to do.

Kyle (Edmond, OK)

Virginia and Georgia Tech are being mentioned as the next likely B1G targets to reach 16. But Georgia Tech isn't contiguous. Are they the "Missouri" type of distraction being floated, so that a truly desired new member (i.e. UNC-Chapel Hill?) can be courted without public pressure? Or would VA, NC, GT and another school to reach 18 be Jim Delaney's goal?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:40 PM)

I don't think the contiguous thing is as important as the AAU thing, and Georgia Tech is an AAU member. North Carolina clearly would be the priority as UNC is a truly big-time addition. I don't think the Big Ten wants to go past 16.

Matt (Iowa City)

(completely unrelated to expansion/ bowl games)Adam,How worried should I be about my Hawkeyes next year? Not only do we have to face NIU and all of the best B1G teams , we have to play ANOTHER directional Michigan school! any optimism would be greatly appreciated!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:42 PM)

Yikes, beware of the directional Michigans. I'll be honest Matt: Northern Illinois should beat Iowa handily next year. That has a lot to do with NIU, to be honest. The key for the Hawkeyes is to make improvement as the season goes along, which we didn't see this year. It'll be critical for Jake Rudock to develop and for his receivers to help him out. I'm not as worried about the defense, which wasn't the big problem this year.

Joe (East Lansing)

With all the talk of UNC joining, which would be great, why not bring Duke along with them. Adds about the same to football as MD but think of the Baskteball!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:43 PM)

I still think Maryland football is significantly better than Duke football. Also, you're adding one market with UNC and Duke rather than multiple markets, as we saw with Maryland and Rutgers. That's a big difference.

Zak (Chicago)

Could the B1G brand actually help Maryland and Rutgers put together consistent football teams? Rutgers seems to be on the verge of being a consistent player and that's while in the Big East. Maryland will be able to give a bigger budget to the football program and so may help give a better product on the field. I feel like we just have to give this at least a few years before we start judging whether it was a good move or not.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:44 PM)

Zak, you're absolutely correct, and more Big Ten fans should be looking at it this way. The Big Ten undoubtedly will improve those programs because, quite frankly, they'll have to get better to compete in this league. If the revenue figures turn out to be correct, Maryland and Rutgers will have the resources to upgrade their programs.

Mochila (Grand Rapids, MI)

Which of the following Big Ten players will have the biggest performance in their respective bowl: Venric Mark, Devin Gardner, Taylor Martinez, Le'Veon Bell, or Montee Ball.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:46 PM)

I like the three running backs: Mark, Bell and Ball. Mark faces a very average rush defense in Miss State, and I think both Ball and Bell have really big performances in their final college games (sorry, MSU fans, think Bell is as good as gone).

ME (HERE)

Will you gentleman be attending any bowl games this season?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:46 PM)

We will. But I cannot reveal them at this time.

Carl LaFong (Warsaw In)

Adam are you surprised how well IU is recruiting this year?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:47 PM)

Maybe a little, Carl, but I know Kevin Wilson has some good coaches on the staff. The defensive recruiting has really been improved as Indiana's message of immediate playing time seems to be sinking in.

Kyle (Edmond, OK)

How heavily will Indy go after the National Championship game? I don't think they are bidding for the first year. Can they help make the NC an away game for Pac-12 and SEC?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:49 PM)

Kyle, we'll have to see if the title game moves away from the existing bowls. It would be nice to see it take place in the Midwest from time to time. Depending on what else Indy has on its agenda (Super Bowl, Olympic trials, Final Four, etc), I'm sure it would look to bid.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:49 PM)

Kyle, we'll have to see if the title game moves away from the existing bowls. It would be nice to see it take place in the Midwest from time to time. Depending on what else Indy has on its agenda (Super Bowl, Olympic trials, Final Four, etc), I'm sure it would look to bid.

Charlie (Rapid City, SD)

Whats the health of Joel Stave? And if he's able do you think he would be the starting QB for Wisconsin in the Rose bowl or will they stick with Phillips? I think Stave gives us more of a shot but was wondering your thoughts

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:50 PM)

Charlie, it sounds like Joel is trying to get back for the game, but I really think it would be a mistake to go away from Curt Phillips. Wisconsin is coming off of its best offensive showing of the year. The unit finally has some continuity after so much transition. Although I liked what Stave was doing before his injury, it would be a bad idea to trigger another big change.

The Fry Kids (McWorld)

Hi, Adam! After the recent scheduling debacle between the Pac-12 and the B1G, do you see conferences teaming up to schedule conference vs. conference events in the future? The B1G-ACC Challenge is very exciting in basketball, I'd love to see it happen on the gridiron!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:52 PM)

It would be fun, but the Big Ten/Pac-12 thing showed how difficult it is to get so many schools on board. Scheduling is different in different places, and if a few schools can't do it, it prevents a true round-robin. I know the Big Ten will be very cautious about doing something like that again. The alliance falling apart was very embarrassing for the league, even though it was the Pac-12's doing.

George (Lincoln)

Do you see Taylor Martinez progressing as a quarterback as next season continues, or will he regress to his early career form and be a turnover machine? We have waited three years for him to develop into a Heisman trophy candidate. Also, if Taylor does not improve and the huskers do not show up in the Capitol One Bowl, what will happen to Bo Pelini?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:53 PM)

George, Martinez made a lot of progress this season. He really looked like a different player at times. That said, he also tends to be a turnover machine, which is unacceptable for a guy with so much experience. Maybe that changes as a senior, but you would think he would have a handle on it by now. Still, I think Martinez can be one of the top QBs next fall. As for Pelini, next year is big for him with a new AD.

Jon (Colorado)

If Alvarez can keep three of the five coaches being targeted (Miller, Strickland, Hammock, Partridge, and Herbert) how big of a coup is that? To me Herbert is one of if not the biggest loss of the offseason given what he has done for the strength program.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:54 PM)

Herbert is outstanding, Jon. I'd say Miller and Strickland are the likeliest to remain, but if Wisconsin can get two of the other three -- Herbert, Hammock, Partridge -- it would be really big.

Bret (Arkansas)

All this pig souy stuff is crazy and this place reminds me of Deliverance... I think I made a huge mistake, will Barry take me back?

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:55 PM)

He might take you back as a grad assistant. Let me know if that's cool with you and I'll put you two in touch.

Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)

Adam, I have no issues with Barry Alvarez really, but I just don't buy his comments that adding UMD and Rutgers had anything to do with the PSU leaving. It's not like PSU's original inclusion was a unanimous decision and just 6 months ago they were thinking of kicking them out. That decision only had to do with schools near TV sets that just so happened to be in PSU's vicinity. Let's not be dramatic about it.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:58 PM)

Lou, all I can tell you is myself and other colleagues were hearing rumors of Penn State possibly leaving the Big Ten for the ACC in the days before the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. I checked with some PSU trustees and others in the know and they hadn't heard anything about it. I do think the Big Ten gave some thought to Penn State being an outlier and the potential some day (not right now) for PSU to look elsewhere.

CC (Atlanta)

I don't get the B1G whining about bowl games in FL being away games. They arrive several days before the game unlike regular season away games. And since when did playing in 60+ degree sunny weather become a problem for any team? Stop with the lame excuses!!

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:59 PM)

CC, understand your point, but Big Ten teams also play in much colder weather for the second half of the season. They're more conditioned that way, and it does drive some of the strategy, etc. There also are a lot of stats that show teams traveling farther for games struggle more. We've seen this with Big Ten teams traveling to the west coast to face the Pac-12.

Adam Rittenberg
  (1:59 PM)

OK, last one ...

Brandon (Cleveland)

Is the B1G a two team race next year between tOSU and that team up north? Who do you think can stop the Buckeyes in the conference?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:00 PM)

Wisconsin will be interesting to watch -- a lot of talent comes back, but new coaching staff. I also wouldn't dismiss Nebraska, Northwestern or Michigan State. All three teams return a lot.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:01 PM)

OK, guys, time's up. Good chat today. Talk to you again soon.